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Black Velvet Wall
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Rock Warrior 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- British: E2 5b R

Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Richard Harrison, Jay Smith, Nick Nordblom
Page Views: 7,728
Submitted By: J. Thompson on Nov 6, 2006
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Psyching up for the second pitch. 1985


Pitch 1: Climb up easy white rock until you reach the obvious, rightward traverse at a slab. This is not to hard but very runout. Traverse much farther than you'd think until directly below the obvious(and good) bolts leading to the bolted anchor. 5.10R.

Pitch 2: continue up varnished rock passing the occasional bolt. You will get occasional gear to supplement the bolts, but you must be crafty and attentive.Following the bolts is your best bet for locating the proper route(this goes fro all pitch's!)...look closely. Belay at 2 bolts 5.10.

Pitch 3: More of the same...follow well spaced bolts and occasional gear to a 2 bolt anchor, 5.10-R-.

Pitch 4: Yep...same stuff only this one checks in @ 5.9R.

Pitch 5: repeat.

Pitch 6: AhHa! Change! Although ever so slight! Climb the obvious bulge up and left of the belay 5.10-.

At the 2-bolt anchor, signaling the end of this pitch, you can either rap or continue up for several more pitches in the 5.8/5.9 range.
Most people rap. If you rap, consider rapping POD, it is the cleanest section of the wall and greatly reduces the chances of rope problems.

Overall a very good route, very heady....be SURE you can handle this one before trying it!


1 set nuts, 1 set RPs, 1 set cams from blue Alien to #2 Camalot.

Photos of Rock Warrior Slideshow Add Photo
Andrew leads out on the 4th pitch.  Notice the lack of chalk and friendly runnouts typical of this route.
Andrew leads out on the 4th pitch. Notice the lac...
Does this pic even need a caption?
BETA PHOTO: Does this pic even need a caption?
Going for the 2nd bolt on the first pitch. The bolt is roughly 20 feet and 2 o'clock from the crack above the 1st bolt and it is difficult to see. Photo: Adam Therneau.
Going for the 2nd bolt on the first pitch. The bol...
Starting 2nd pitch. 11 Dec '11. Photo: Adam Therneau.
Starting 2nd pitch. 11 Dec '11. Photo: Adam Therne...
Andrew leads the last pitch around the corner to the left.
Andrew leads the last pitch around the corner to t...
Karsten making it look hard. . . no it wasn't really this difficult.
Karsten making it look hard. . . no it wasn't real...
Pitch one.  Climbers on the 3rd pitch of Prince of Darkness can be seen above.
Pitch one. Climbers on the 3rd pitch of Prince of...
Todd following the second pitch
Todd following the second pitch
Navigating flakes and cracks of the 2nd pitch. Photo: Adam Therneau.
Navigating flakes and cracks of the 2nd pitch. Pho...
Rock Warrior, Thanksgiving 1987.
Rock Warrior, Thanksgiving 1987.
Sarah on pitch 2, someone on POD in the background
Sarah on pitch 2, someone on POD in the background
Comments on Rock Warrior Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 21, 2013
By brent pohlmann
From: San Francisco, CA
Oct 1, 2006

Does anyone have beta on Rock Warrior? I have the Swain guide and it's OK, but I'd love to hear some comments on this thing from someone whose done it.

By J. Thompson
From: denver, co
Nov 6, 2006

There is a variation to the first pitch. BUT!!! It is Harder AND more runout.

Instead of going way right continue up to the first obvious bolt on the wall...5.10R+ I believe this is the first bolt for sandstone samarai..instead of going left as for SS, continue straigt up following discontinous cracks. Pay Attention to Gear!! There is very little and what is there is not great. You will climb a crux in the first 60ft that checks in somewhere between 5.10d and 5.11B...and you will be WAY above gear. Follow the cracks until you reach a point where you can traverse right towards what is the first bolt on the 2nd pitch of RW. It's a long traverse and clocks in around 5.10bR. Clip the first bolt then climb to the second...and belay. There are 2 good stoppers down and left of this bolt that make the belay resonable...but they are not obvious. 5.11R/X
This variation is very good climbing, however it's not really recommended. If you want something to tick off and you can handle it...by all means!! But be warned...it's far from safe.

By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jun 20, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b R

seems like alot of people blow the first pitch- usually by heading up too soon before into the traverse. the bolt you're looking for is about 8' above and 15'-20' left of the POD/DoWT belay.

we didnt use anything bigger than a green camalot on this one- although there was a spot or two for a #1 if you wanted something other than a bomber stopper.

also, for reference, you can rap the upper two pitches with a single 70m line, as well as the bottom two- the middle two, however, are a bit long. oh well!

By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 20, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b R

The first pitch is hard to figure out and VERY run out. Straight up to two bolts, long traverse -down and right - then straight up. If you blow the top you will deck so be careful.This is the money pitch in terms of having head screwed on. Second pitch is harder but has more gear. Rest is pretty run out with occasional good wire/RP and rare bolt.

By D. Evans
Feb 17, 2011

Todd Gordon and I did what I believe was possibly the second ascent in April 1985. I remember the first two pitches as tricky. We continued to the top of Black Velvet Peak for 15 pitches, many of them after dark. We got down to the car around midnight to find our friend Holly asleep and dinner very cold. She was more annoyed than worried.
It was a long day.

By W.S.
From: Montana
Apr 1, 2011
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b R

Bold! The climbing is not too hard but you're WAY above the gear and the flaky sandstone is less than confidence inspiring. Gear is mostly small and usually lousy. Be on your game! Otherwise it's a very neat section of the wall and pretty cool to climb next to sportos on POD. "What are those guys doing?! Don't they know they're 40ft out?!" As an aside, although the bolts are spaced all are bomber.

By SexPanther aka Kiedis
May 8, 2011

Wendell Broussard has a funny story about the 2nd ascent, I'm gonna botch it pretty bad, but the jist is that after Nick, Jay, and Richard came back to town and sat down for beers and tales of adventure with the rest of the crew, everyone started discussing what they were getting on the next day. The consensus seemed to be "aah...maybe just a hike, or some cragging...nothing big like what these guys just put up!"

The next morning, a group of the same "hikers" smoked up the trail to the Velvet Wall, loaded for bear with small gear and brass balls, and spotted some of their buddies from the night before already a couple of pitches up. Their ruse was in common, the alarm clocks just set a LITTLE bit earlier. As Wendell put it, there was heard a great cry across the canyon...."YOOOOOUUUUU.....MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!!!!"

Classic. I'm not sure of the exact personnel on that 2nd ascent, but I do know they were following chalk from the FA the next morning. Pretty incestuous little social gathering, classic Wendell tale.

By -robin-
Oct 21, 2012
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a PG13

Not Runout. There is ample small gear, bring lots of small wires, rp's and hb's protect nicely. This is far better than POD, much more interesting, but I'd recommend skipping the last two pitches, the rock quality diminishes mid P4 and doesn't really improve to make the extra two pitches worth it. Great route!

By Tyler Gordon
From: Durango, CO
Nov 26, 2012

The first pitch is the only really bad one, otherwise the protection exists and there are plenty of bolts/pitons to keep you on route (for some of the pitons this is their only use). The anchors at the top of pitch 6 can be tricky to find (I'm not sure we even used the right ones), but they are up and around the corner once you reach the ledge.

Great climbing, most of the bolts are in good condition. Nuts are more important than cams on this one, and multiple sets seem to help if you want so sew it up. None of the climbing is super hard, and the wall is like a big playground to run around on (just make sure to find the protection, it's there.) But the funniest part about the route is trying not to laugh as you tap on hollow flakes trying to find pro as the Prince of Darkness people clip bolts as if they were going out of style.

By pete cutler
From: Des Moines, IA
Jan 28, 2013

The first pitch is the only scary one. and it is scary. I remember it having slab moves on poor rock with 60 foot ground fall potential. The rest of the route however was kick ass - enough pro to be safe but runout enough to keep your attention and keep the excitement level high

I remember thinking that you could climb the first pitch of Dream of Wild Turkeys and then traverse like 8 feet over the the first bolt on Rock warrior. You skip the dangerous climbing and don't miss any of the good stuff either..

By Pitty
From: Marbach
May 19, 2013
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c R

cool route...........but the almost hardest (felt) move is the last to the first bolt....ground fall granted ... After the first pitch it is almost sports :-) , every 50 feet a bolt, nice and funny........Gear is there but very small, don't know (and don't want to test it) if it would hold a fall - a 100 feet whipper would be a special experience....

By theDrewGuy
Dec 21, 2013
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b PG13

very runout at a 5.9 level but the 5.10 moves are protected
I'd recommend finding all the bolts on the first pitch before you leave the ground